Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The making of music Tuesday at the National Symphony concert in the Kennedy Center had a very special character. The evening began with the earlier of Mozart's G Minor symphonies and closed with the Fourth of Tchaikovsky, but it was the overwhelming impression created by the first performance of the revised version of Alberto Ginastera's Cello Concerto - in which the composer's wife, Aurora Natola-Ginastera, was the soloist - that left many in the audience emotionally exhausted.
Certain clues to the music's character, if purely surface, can be found in the composer's directions: "molto appassionato," followed by "presto sfumato" and later "esaltato" and "amoroso." There is indeed strong passion and exaltation and sensuousness written into every note - from the ominous, darkling sounds that begin the work, through the soloist's final phrase movements later. As for the "sfumato," read on.
The last phrase in the concerto is one of music's astonishing moments. Step by step, from the cello's lower reachers, the melodic line rises, creating as it goes an almost unbearable tension that is not relieved until the ultimate whisper of sound has disappeared. And for "disappeared" you read "sfumato."
The performance was in all ways magnificent. Natola-Ginastera has a sound of vast size and incredible richness, controlled superbly in every conceivable manner, fluent beyond belief in some breakneck passages. Her musicianship is scruplous and vibrant. As for the orchestra's accomplishment in the face of incredible demands, Rostropovich had his musicians in complete command throughout. It was an astounding achievement.